I Give Up! My Key to a Happier Transition to Motherhood

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READING TIME: 4 min.

Transitioning to motherhood was one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced.

I’ll never forget week one of my firstborn son’s life.  I felt a sense of tiredness not comparable to anything I had ever known.  My emotions soared from the heights of, “I love him so much” to the lows of, “Why did I want to have a baby?” with a constant throb of, “Wow, this is a lot harder than I expected.”  I hurt all over from the combination of labor and my c-section and was petrified to change diapers around that ugly looking cord “thing” and his healing circumcision. The whole experience of becoming a new mom shook my world.

Then there was day 8. For my husband and I it is a sort of day that will live in infamy on our parenting journey. That was the day we decided to go out for one hour, alone.  It had been a whole week since we had some alone time – so why not?  I both hesitantly and eagerly handed the baby over to my mother and got in the car for a trip to a local ice cream place.

We ordered and sat down and then it took about 2 minutes for my tears to start.  My poor husband didn’t know what was happening.  Soon my tears had progressed from a controllable, wipe-off-able trickle into a full-blown, no hiding it, sob.  Why was it so hard? Why didn’t I feel euphoria over having the child I had always wanted? Why wasn’t our ice cream order ready yet?

My husband talked me down from the proverbial ledge, and my milk shake was finally ready.  Ahhh… Maybe we’d make it after all.

We returned home. I fed the baby. We were tired.  But, instead of sleep, this would be the night we learned that breastfeeding babies and, for me, dairy, do not mix.  That was a lesson we learned until 6am the next morning, after exhausting every trick we knew in a vain attempt to get the crying to STOP.

Ahhhh…memories…

For me, embracing the new role of motherhood was a struggle most of that first year.  Beyond the obvious challenge of figuring out how to care for a newborn – I had a constant internal struggle. It felt like this little person was running my life.  I balked at having a new “boss.” He told me what I couldn’t eat, wouldn’t let me sleep, and seemed to need attention just when I would sit down to do something very important (like post pictures of him on Facebook).  I had been a single and independent working girl for more than a decade post-college.  I had earned positions in my career where I had lots of liberty and very few people to whom I had to answer.  Now, a newborn was dictating the details of my life.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when we welcomed our 4th child into this world.  He’s calm and relaxed – but so are his parents (now).  He’ll probably sleep most of tonight because I’m not going to touch anything that’s even remotely related to a dairy cow. I’ll happily change his diaper to make him comfortable, even though the gross piece of umbilical cord is bound to get in my way.

So what happened? Well, in short, I think I gave up.

Yes. I gave up ice cream, unlimited time at the gym, and sleeping through the night.  I gave up the ability to shop for countless hours or have coffee with friends without having to watch the clock.  I gave up uninterrupted phone calls, unlimited time to write, frequent travel, and the job that required all of that.  In short, I gave up doing what I felt like doing, when I felt like doing it. I gave up my freedom and I surrendered… to motherhood.

My peaceful 4th baby.

It was my surrender that somehow allowed me to morph into a mom–or, more accurately– a happier mom.  I had to stop lamenting the loss of my old life and come to the reality that yes, life-with-baby was different, but it would have a whole new set of benefits. Giving up allowed me to relax, enjoy, and embrace the privilege of being a mother.

As my children have done some morphing of their own–from babies into toddlers and preschoolers, I’ve had to give up even more. Privacy (like using the bathroom with the door all the way closed), sitting down for meals, and watching the Today show instead of Curious George, are luxuries I sometimes miss.  But, the list of what I’ve gained from “giving up” is too long to capture in words.  And, I can’t imagine life any other way.

 

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Originally an East Coast native, Heather Creekmore is a pastor’s wife living in Austin, Texas. Heather spent over a decade working in politics and marketing for non-profits before marriage and children. Now, through her own ministry, Heather speaks and writes to encourage Christian women who struggle with body image and comparison. Her first book titled, “Compared to Who?” (Leafwood, 2017) helps people find new freedom from comparison struggles. In her free time, Heather home schools four children, drives the soccer practice shuttle, makes (sometimes edible) freezer meals, competes on Netflix baking shows, and breaks grammar rules. Connect with Heather on Facebook or on her blog at: Compared to Who.

23 COMMENTS

  1. LOVE this! Parenting is soooo giving up–but in the best way. You described it perfectly! Wouldn’t trade it for anything!

  2. Love this-it’s so true! Giving up and surrendering to motherhood-such a blessing but SO HARD (at least it was for me too)! But totally worth it!

  3. love this post Heather! Our post-delivery story after our first was soooo similar (we even had our first “date” out at an ice cream place AND I cried… of course).

    So thankful to be reminded of the surrender required in being a mom – BUT the joy that comes after the surrender is oh so sweet, right?

    • Thanks, Steph! I think it’s one part of motherhood that no one talks about…You are just to put on your smiley “I love being a mom” face and show the world that it’s no big deal…but it is!!

  4. Loved your words! It is true. With my first, the biggest thing I struggled with was holding on to my “old” self. It wasn’t until I embraced my new role, including the basic reality that I couldn’t “have it all,” or at least, not all at once, did I learn to treasure what I have right now. And like you, I wouldn’t trade my children, or the lessons they teach me, for anything. Write on, Heather!

  5. Loved this! We had our 3rd in April, and she’s our first calm child and the first one to sleep through the night – and I haven’t touched a bit of dairy since I had her.

    • How’d you figure out the dairy connection, Kelly? I did a lot of research and now I think it affects more people than realize it! So many times I hear moms say about how “colicky” their baby is, etc… and I wonder if there is a diet connection!

  6. Wow, you summarized everything I’ve felt about motherhood so well. It was a rough transition for me, having waited 13 years (post college) to have a baby. I would love to have a second child to put in to practice all that I have learned about “giving up” and enjoying a new season. But hubby isn’t ready. Don’t think he’s quite ready to give up even more. But I’m happy to be where we are. Thanks for being real about motherhood. Keep writing!

  7. Right on. As someone considering becoming a parent, this post really hit home for me. All of my fears stem from holding on to the single/professional me, and not knowing how to transition into this less selfish phase. Keep writing for sure!

    • Thanks for your comments. I think pregnancy starts the process, honestly…Even when you are pregnant you have to start sacrificing — it’s 12 months of preparation for the bigger sacrifices ahead. But, you take it one day at a time and learn as you go! I’d highly recommend it! I miss the excitement of my job sometimes – but this job has many rewards as well that are far more meaningful and long lasting! 🙂

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